green curry

December 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

i am terrifically loyal or, at least, a consummate creature of habit.  In any event, after finding something that i like, i’ll happily stick with it for so long as i am able.  to wit, i have ordered the same coffee drink since I was 18, become emotionally distraught each and every time a beloved hair product is discontinued (letter writing campaign!) , and return to the same happy dishes over and over (see, e.g., eggs benedict; duck, mandarin salad at macy’s oak room).  and for those of you that knew me in law school and the years that followed, my tendency to fixate also applied to my curries: green, naturally, with just a hint of a goldilocks complex as it relates to the spice level.

still, despite my wholehearted dedication to the concept of the green curry, and fussiness over the heat, i’d never tried it at home, thinking it a bit out of my wheelhouse.

scout’s honor: i won’t make the same mistake in the future.

this is one of those recipes that involved a lot of halfhearted internet research and a little faith.  innately immodest, i’ll call it mine.

the stuff:

1 12oz brick of tofu (hard) (or chicken breasts, or scallops)

yellow onion, finely chopped

garlic (3 cloves), finely chopped

ginger (small knot, grated)

green chili, lightly chopped and maybe-seeded (i went with a Serrano, which I seeded, but if you’re more of a “5” than a “3,” feel free to buck the system)

1-2 cans of coconut milk (feel free to use light)

Curry mix (or curry paste if you’re lazy like me).

Appx. 4 Tbs. fish sauce

Cashews (in my book, the more the better)

Pinch of salt

Bean Sprouts and Cilantro for serving (as to the latter, I can’t stop shuddering, but they keep telling me it’s appropriate).

Something to serve on.  I heart the quinoa and this is a great time to use it (supergrain to the rescue!), but you could also serve atop rice (white, brown, basmati), or asian noodles.

and then you’ll want to choose your veggies.  There’s no right or wrong here.  I thought about all of the things I love in a green curry dish and approximated.  You should feel free to do the same.  For purposes of inspiration only, I offer you the veggies that i chose:

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 red pepper, seeded and chopped

Eggplant, 1/2, cubed

Carrot, shredded (some fancy people have a mandolin for such purposes.  I prefer to throw caution to the wind and use my metal cheese grater.  For the record, I have a lot less cabinet space than fancy people).

Peas (I used 1 1/2c, frozen.  Don’t judge.  It’s winter and I live in Minnesota).

Cauliflower, appx. ½ head, florets coarsely chopped.

water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

baby corn, drained and coarsely chopped (depending on the size of your baby corn)

straw mushrooms

the how-to:

  1.  Fry the tofu (drained and cubed) in sesame oil until golden on all sides.  (and this is an internet instruction.  I have honestly never cooked with tofu before, but thought it was actually pretty nice in this dish, and would unreservedly use it again.  But here’s the thing: the tofu—at least mine—doesn’t really get golden on all sides.  It is weird and sticks to the pan, in spite of the oil, but eventually after quite a while gets a little… um… more golden?  In any event, it’s ending up in the stew of everything else, so don’t sweat it.  Spoiler alert: More golden-ish ends up just fine).  When you’re satisfied with its golden-ish-ness, set it aside.
  2. At the same time, toast the cashews in a dry pan (that is, put the cashews in the dry pan on low heat and occasionally toss, such that they don’t burn.  Keep going until they smell like warm yumminess).
  3. At the same time, Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, green chili, peas, carrot, eggplant and cauliflower in whatever.  I used olive oil.  Keep going until the cauliflower is al dente.    I did most of this with the lid off, but put the lid on at the end because I’m impatient and wanted the GD cauliflower to be close to done, already. Then add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, peppers and cashews.  The idea here is that you want these ingredients to be a bit more crisp, to give the dish a bite.  Put them in earlier, and things will end up fine, but with less distinct textural difference.
  4. Start your grain/starch (quinoa! Quinoa! Quinoa for the win!)
  5. to the veggies, add: coconut milk to nearly cover (I ended up using 2 14oz cans), curry (I did 1.5 Tbsp per can of coconut milk, or 3 Tbsp total.  I’m a wee bit of a wuss, and honest, in the end, I could have done with more.  Still, cardinal rule derived from internet research:  err on the side of under-curry-ing.  You can ALWAYS add more), fish sauce, salt to taste.  Let the coconut milk reduce a bit, but note that it won’t really thicken, unless you’re made of magic, which I am not.
  6. Add tofu and permit it to warm (5 mins, tops)
  7. Serve atop your grainy starchy thing, and serve with cilantro (eek) and bean sprouts.

Yum Yum.

NB: the image that appears above is not mine. I forgot to take pictures last night.  It comes from temple of thai dot com.  Who should totally not sue me.

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